482 HISTORY OF PERSIA CHA?, sterling was available to meet all the claims for arrears of salary and on other accounts. The result was that the first loan was very soon absorbed in totally unreproductive expenditure, and in the following year a second loan was contracted on the same security for 10,000,000 roubles, or just over a million sterling. To the new loan was attached a concession for a road from the frontier town of Julfa on the Aras to Teheran via Tabriz. Certain rights to work petroleum and coal were also acquired. These m'ay prove to be of value when the conversion of the road into a railway becomes an accomplished fact. These two loans have been financially disastrous for Persia. Her annual revenue at that period was about ;£ i, 500,000, and yet in three years, sums almost equal to the revenue were borrowed and spent, with nothing in the way of reproductive expenditure to show for them. Since this date the debt of Persia has steadily increased, and according to the latest statistics it has now reached 6£ millions. This sum is exclusive of nearly half a million claimed for losses due to robberies. The Belgian Customs Administration.—Twenty years ago, .when I first visited Persia, the levying of customs was as bad and as corrupt as any other branch of Persian administration. Each important custom-house was farmed by the Central Government to a wealthy notable, or in some cases to a local chief. Customs were levied on no system whatever, the usual method of procedure being for the merchant to make a bargain with the farmer. Europeans declined to pay more than the treaty 5 per - cent, but native merchants, after bargaining at the port, were freely taxed in the interior. To give some notion of the conditions prevailing, I cannot do better than quote an instance. Shortly after founding the Consulate at Kerman, in 1895, I informed the customs farmer that the Hindus, as British subjects, were not liable to any internal dues, as they had paid the 5 per cent at Bandar Abbas. My letter much upset the Persian official, who enquired my authority. In reply I referred him to the treaty. <c Treaty! " he exclaimed. " What treaty ! / have signed no treaty !"